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Computational Fluid Dynamics

Assignment B

A common CFD application is the simulation of external aerodynamics. In the automotive industry, it is
important to make sure the drag of the vehicle is kept as low as possible, as it can lead to savings in fuel
consumption and shape design. The Ahmed [1] model is often used in experiments to represent car shapes
due to its simple geometry and the ease of varying parameters.

The aim of this simulation is to achieve the following goals:

1. Create a representative 3-dimensional model geometry of an Ahmed car, within a computational
fluid domain with key design parameters
2. Create and perform quality CFD simulations of the 3D Ahmed [1] car model and to extract
meaningful data
3. Gain an understanding on model requirements for turbulent flows and the importance of y+ values
to satisfactorily capture the boundary layer in these conditions
4. Understand the usage of boundary layers and size functions
5. To learn how to compare and discuss results with published experimental results
1.1 Problem description and report outline
This report will conduct a number of different fluid flow simulations for a single 3D Ahmed car model
[1] and acquire the necessary data. Figure 1 below illustrates a typical Ahmed car body design.

Figure 1: Side view (left) and front view (right) of the Ahmed car model with slant angle ()

In order to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the above problem; the Ahmed car model will be
subjected to four different flow simulations throughout this report. Initially, the model will be tested with
a 30 slant angle under two different turbulence models; k-Epsilon and k-Omega. Furthermore, the
Ahmed car model will be tested with a reduced slant angle under the k-epsilon turbulence model. The
final simulation will analyse the flow characteristics of the Ahmed car model with the addition of a car-
spoiler under the k-epsilon turbulence model.

2.1 Model Geometry and Dimensions

In order achieve an accurate simulation of airflow over the car body; a 3D computational domain must be
constructed with the car body enclosed within. Figure 2 and table 1 illustrate the geometry and
dimensions of the computational domain. These domain coordinates will provide an adequate
computational space to resolve and capture the required airflow data prior to reaching the outlet of the

Figure 2: 2D geometry of the computational domain

Table 1: Computational domain dimensions

In addition to the 2D geometry shown above, a 3D extrusion of 4000 mm depth is used to complete the
computational domain.

Figure 3 illustrates the geometric design and associated dimensions of the Ahmed car body within the
computational domain. Initially, the car body will include a slant angle of 30 degrees; however the slant
angle is a variable subject to change depending on the simulation model. The 2D geometry shown below
is extruded to a depth of 194.5 mm to achieve the desired 3D geometry.

Figure 3: Car body geometry and dimensions

V1 (mm) L2 (mm) L3 (mm) L4 (mm)
3000 50 16000 6300

2.2 Boundary Conditions

The overall geometry in question is composed of seven named section boundaries based on the
computational domain and car body design. The seven boundaries include the inlet, outlet, sky, ground,
symm-plane, side-plane, and car-body. Figure 4 illustrates the overall geometry of the Ahmed car model
simulation and the corresponding boundaries.

Figure 4: 3D Ahmed car model geometry

Density: = 1.185 [kg m^-3]; Dynamic Viscosity: = 1.831E-05 [kg m^-1 s^-1].

Reynolds number of 2.3 10
. The flow turbulence intensity is set to 1.8%.

2.3 Mesh Details
Figures 5 & 6 illustrate the details of the boundary layer mesh (Inflation) and size functions settings

Figure 5: Boundary layer mesh (Inflation)

Figure 6: Sizing function settings (Sizing)


In order to save time while meshing, it is very useful to estimate the distance between the wall and the
first grid node (y1). To estimate the y1 value based on a desired y
value, ANSYS CFX recommends the
use of the following equation:


13 14

L is the flow length scale.
ReL is the Reynolds number based on the model length scale. Car length in this case.

In the case of the k-epsilon turbulence model; ANSYS CFX requires that:


< 300

In this simulation, a conservative value of y
=150 will be used as the desired y

Therefore, based on the above formula and considerations; the estimated first inflation layer height (y1) is:

= 1.6 []

Figure 7: Mesh inflation

2.4 Mesh Quality

In order to achieve an accurate mesh of high quality one must focus on three fundamental measurements
of quality: Skewness, Smoothness, and Aspect Ratio [5].

The skewness of a grid is an appropriate indicator of the mesh quality and suitability [5]. Large mesh
skewness will effectively compromise the accuracy of the interpolated regions [5]. While there are several
methods for determining the skewness of a grid; this report will focus specifically on the method of
Equiangular skewness[5].

Equiangular skewness is defined as:



max = largest angle in the face or cell.
min = smallest angle in the face or cell.
e = angle for an equiangular face/cell (e.g., 60 for a triangle, 90 for a square).

Equiangular skewness varies within a range from zero to one (0 1), with zero being the best possible
scenario, while a skewness of one is almost never desirable. Table 2 1 illustrates a more detailed
breakdown of a typical skewness range.

Table 2: Typical skewness range

Value of Skewness Cell Quality
1 Degenerate
0.9 - 1 Bad
0.75 - 0.9 Poor
0.5 - 0.75 Fair
0.25 - 0.5 Good
0 - 0.25 Excellent
0 Equilateral

Smoothness refers to the change in size of the cell. For an accurate high quality mesh, it is important to
minimize any sudden jumps in cell size. A large sudden change in size will result in incorrect results at
nearby nodes [5].

Figure 9: Basic smoothness example

Figure 8: Basic skewness example


Aspect ratio is a ratio of the longest to the shortest side of a cell. An ideal aspect ratio is equal to one.
Maintaining an aspect ratio close to one is extremely important as it minimizes interpolation error and
achieves accurate multidimensional flow [5].

Figure 10: Basic Aspect ratio example

Figure 11& 12 illustrate a 2D and 3D visual overview of the mesh surrounding the car and the
computational domain. It is clear from the below images that the mesh in question maintains a relative
consistency in the change in size between cells. The mesh gradually reduces its cell size as it approaches
the more complex geometry surrounding the car body; this is necessary as the mesh needs to be refined
into smaller cells to capture more complicated flow patterns around the car body.

Based on a visual observation; the mesh does not achieve a perfect aspect ratio equal to one. However,
the majority of mesh cells appear to have an aspect ratio very close to what would be considered ideal.
The mesh also appears to maintain its cell aspect ratio over the gradual change in cell size.

Figure 11: 3D body mesh over computational domain

Figure 12: Mesh around car body


The mesh skewness can be observed analytically. Figure 13 below illustrates a set of numerical data
extracted from the Ahmed car simulation; this data is crucial to equiangular mesh skewness.

Figure 13: Mesh details

Based on the data presented in figure 13 and the skewness range demonstrated in table 2 it can be
observed that the average equiangular skewness of [0.2253] with a deviation of [0.1221] lies with the
excellent quality category while sometimes deviating into the good quality category.


This section of the report will present and discuss all relevant observations and results generated by the
ANSYS CFX simulation of the Ahmed car body with a 30 slant angle. The model will be subjected to
both k-epsilon and k-omega turbulence models.

The main objectives are as follows:
- Understand and discuss the importance of y+ (dimensionless wall distance) values in turbulent
- Compare and discuss the simulated drag coefficient CD and lift coefficient CL of the CFD Ahmed car
model against the experimental data of Watkins and Vino [3].
3.1 K-Epsilon vs. K-Omega Turbulence Models

Turbulence modeling is the construction and use of a model to predict the effects of turbulence. The K-
Epsilon (k-) and K-Omega (k-) turbulence models are amongst the most commonly used turbulence
models in CFD; due to their ease of use, and low cost computation. Both are considered two equation
models meaning that they include two extra transport equations to represent the turbulent properties of
the flow [2].

The k- turbulence model has been shown to be useful or free shear layer flow applications with small
pressure gradients. Accuracy has a tendency to reduce for flows containing large pressure gradients. K-
models have been proven inadequate for flows with strong curvature, strong buoyancy effects, and strong
swirls [2].


Figures 14 & 15 demonstrate the y
contour effects on the car body for the two turbulence models. While
both images appear almost identical; keen observation suggests that the k- model achieves a slightly
higher y+ range in comparison to the k- model. However, it appears that the k- model maintains a
higher range and more uniform contour as the flow moves of the slant angle.

Figures 16 & 17 depict pressure contours for the two turbulence models. Visually, it is difficult to
determine any differences between the two models. However, it appears that the k- model achieves a
miniscule maximum pressure range; while the k- model has a slightly lower minimum pressure range.

Y+, the non-dimensional wall distance for a wall-bounded flow states that the average velocity of a
turbulent flow at a particular point is directly proportional to the logarithm of the distance from that point
to the wall or the boundary of the fluid region [6]. The following formulae explain the relationship
between Y+ and the dimensionless velocity of the flow:


, where

Figure 15: Y
contour plot (k-) Figure 14: Y
contour plot (k-)
Figure 17: Pressure contour plot (k-)
Figure 16: Pressure contour plot (k-)


Similar to the previous plots; the velocity vector plots depicted in figures 18 & 19 have almost identical
visual flow characteristics. Velocity ranges are near identical.

Figures 20 & 21 illustrate the streamline plots of the two turbulence models. Keen observation suggests
that the k- turbulence model has developed a slightly denser turbulent swirl in the wake of the car body
and a slight increase in velocity.

Figure 19: Velocity vector plot (k-)
Figure 18: Velocity vector plot (k-)
Figure 21: Streamline plot (k-) Figure 20: Streamline plot (k-)


The turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) plots illustrated in figures 22 & 23 demonstrate major differences
between the two turbulence models. Visual observation suggests that the k- model experiences a greater
build-up of turbulent kinetic energy as the flow passes of the front of the car body; resulting in a much
larger distribution of energy. The k- model on the other hand experiences almost no distribution of
energy over the car body; instead achieving a greater energy distribution in the wake of the car body. Also,
the k- model achieves a maximum TKE almost twice that of its comparator.

Figures 24 & 25 represent turbulent kinetic energy plots in the wake of the car body. While both models
have identical contour ranges; the k- appears to have less energy development in the wake of the car
body than the k- model; the energy appears to disperse. However, similar to the previous TKE plot
illustrated in figures 22 & 23 the k- model achieves a larger distribution in the wake, just not as intense
as the comparator model.

Figure 23: TKE plot symm-plane (k-) Figure 22: TKE plot symm-plane (k-)
Figure 25: TKE plot car body (k-) Figure 24: TKE plot car body (k-)

3.2 Lift (CL) and Drag (CD) Coefficients
In the automotive industry, the coefficients of lift and drag are defined as:



Where A is the reference area perpendicular to the drag force; which in this case of an automobile is the
frontal area. However, this report will utilize ANSYS CFX to solve the lift and drag coefficients
numerically using the following CFX expression definitions:

Figure 26: CFX expression definitions

According to the expression definitions illustrated in figure 26 the coefficients of lift & drag for the
Ahmed car body with a 30 slant angle is as follows:

Table 3: Lift & Drag Coefficients

However, experimental data provided by Watkins and Vino; [3] which underwent testing similar to the
simulation of the Ahmed car body presented above suggest that the Drag and Lift coefficients should be
in the range of 0.32 and 0.5 respectively. Why is this so? Why is there such a large difference between
the experimental and simulation results?

After thorough observation of the literature provided by Watkins and Vino, [3] the reasoning behind the
variation in results is clear. The experiment undertaken by Watkins and Vino involved a setup to test the
drafting effects on multiple car models. The addition of a second car model and the consequential drafting
effect generated from this setup resulted in a considerable decrease in drag and an increase in lift. It is
also apparent that the experiment conducted by Watkins and Vino utilized a test speed of 35 m/s; slightly
higher than the test speed of 34.04 m/s used in the Ahmed car simulation demonstrated in this report.
This section of the report will present and discuss all relevant observations and results generated by the
ANSYS CFX simulation of the Ahmed car body with a 12.5 slant angle. The model will be subjected to
the k-epsilon turbulence model only.

The main objectives are as follows:
- Obtain the drag coefficient CD for the Ahmed car model with reduced slant angle using the k-Epsilon
turbulence model only.
Drag Coefficient (CD) 0.4879
Lift Coefficient (CL) 0.2994

- Analyse and discuss the differences of the drag coefficient CD between the experimental fluid
dynamics (EFD) data [1] and the Ahmed car simulation.
4.1 30 vs. 12.5 slant angle

Figures 15 & 28 depict Y
contour comparison between the 30 and 12.5 Ahmed car models. The main
visual difference between the two contours is the presence of a more evenly distributed contour over the
12.5 slant. This is most likely dude to a more accurate simulation as the k- turbulence model performs
better over smaller curvatures.

The most apparent difference between the pressure contours illustrated in figure 17 & 27 is the lack of
pressure build-up at the top slant edge for the 12.5. The two contours appear near identical otherwise.
The 12.5 model also experiences less stagnation over the slant and achieves less flow separation and less
pressure change.

The streamline plots representing the two slant angles seen in figures 21 & 30 have a very apparent
difference. Due to the reduced slant; the 12.5 model has much larger and more aggressive turbulent
vortices in the wake of the car body. This also results in a slightly reduce flow velocity that is less
concentrated as the flow enters the wake as seen in the velocity vector comparison in figures 19 & 31.
Figure 28: Y
contour Figure 27: Pressure contour
Figure 30: Streamline plot Figure 29: Velocity vector plot


Figures 23, 25, 31 and 32 demonstrate the turbulent kinetic energy plot comparison between the 30 and
12.5 slant angles. The 12.5 model has a significant increase in TKE by approximately 30 [m
]. The
12.5 model also appears to have a much more aggressive energy distribution in the wake of the car body.
4.2 Lift and drag coefficients
Using that same method demonstrated in section 3.2 the Lift and Drag coefficients for the Ahmed car
model with a 12.5 slant angle are as follows:

Table 4: Lift and Drag Coefficients

According to the results gathered from the SAE paper and experimental fluid dynamics data (EFD) [1] of
the Ahmed car; a CD value of 0.23 is more appropriate for the Ahmed configuration demonstrated in this
report. Why is there such a significant difference between the experimental and numerical results?

While the Ahmed configuration may be similar to that in the simulation and have an identical slant angle;
there is one considerable difference that accounts for the drastic variation in CD values. The test section in
the SAE paper utilized a Reynolds number of 4.29 million; almost double the Reynolds number of 2.6
million used for the Ahmed simulation in this report [1]. In order to achieve a Reynolds number of this
magnitude, the test was performed at a wind speed of 60 m/s. Increasing the wind speed and Reynolds
number by almost double that used in the simulation results in a drastic increase in drag.

This section of the report will present and discuss all relevant observations and results generated by the
ANSYS CFX simulation of the Ahmed car body with a 30 slant angle and the addition of a car-spoiler.
The model will be subjected to only the k-epsilon turbulence model.

The main objectives are as follows:
- Calculate lift and drag coefficients for the car-spoiler model
- Compare and discuss the difference of the CD and CL data between the single Ahmed car with a 30
slant angle and the car spoiler model.

Drag Coefficient (CD) 0.4663
Lift Coefficient (CL) 0.0461
Figure 32: TKE symm-plane Figure 31: TKE car body


The above figures suggest that the addition of a spoiler increases flow rate over the slant as well as
increased pressure and energy dissipation in the wake.

Using that same method demonstrated in section 3.2 the Lift and Drag coefficients for the Ahmed car
model with a 30 slant angle and mounted car-spoiler are as follows:

Table 5: Lift & Drag Coefficients

Observation of the above contour plots and Lift & Drag coefficients; in comparison with the material
presented in section three; suggests that the car-spoiler simulation results in an increase in drag and a
slight decrease in lift. This increase in and drag and decrease in lift results in flow down force on the car
body; forcing the car body into the ground.

Drag Coefficient (CD) 0.6055
Lift Coefficient (CL) 0.2644
Figure 33: Y
contour Figure 34: Pressure contour
Figure 36: TKE symm-plane Figure 35: TKE car body

The CFD simulations conducted in this report demonstrate the effects of external aerodynamics on an
Ahmed car body with varying geometry. It is apparent that the meshing method used in these simulations
is effective as it resulted in an accurate mesh with little deviation in consistency within its three main
quality assurance characteristics; skewness, smoothness, and aspect ratio. Observations of the 30 slant
model under different turbulence conditions suggest that both the k- and k- experience similar results
and in some cases converge; however, the TKE plots depict a clear dissipation effect in the wake of the
car body for the k- model. The comparison of the 30 and 12.5 models suggest that the 30 slant
achieves a greater flow separation and pressure difference to pressure stagnation over the slant; resulting
in increased lift. Observation of the car-spoiler comparison leads to the conclusion that the addition of a
spoiler results in higher flow speeds over the slant and more energy dissipation in the wake of the car. It is
also apparent that the main reasons for the variations in lift and drag coefficients between the CFD
simulations and the experimental procedures seen in Watkins & Vino and the SAE paper lies within the
setup of the test section. The experiment conducted by Watkins and Vino utilized a drafting setup and a
slightly increased flow velocity; while the experiment conducted in the SAE paper used a flow velocity
and Reynolds number almost double that of what was used in the simulation.

[1] S. R. Ahmed, G. Ramm, Some salient features of the time-averaged ground vehicle wake, SAE-Paper
840300, 1984.

[2] K-epsilon models. (2011, june 18). Retrieved from CFD Online:
k-omega models. (2011, 10 12). Retrieved from CFD Online:
Bakker, A. (2006). Applied Computational Fluid Dynamics - Meshing. Retrieved from bakker:
J.Y. Tu, G. Y. (n.d.). Computational Fluid Dynamics - A Practical Approach. UK: Elsevier Science